Third suspect in Marcus Kauffman case accepts plea

Third suspect in Marcus Kauffman case accepts plea
Hart (Rowan Sheriff's Office)
Hart (Rowan Sheriff's Office)

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The third person charged in connection with the robbery and murder of volunteer firefighter Marcus Kauffman was in court on Thursday to plead no contest to felony obstruction of justice.

Tramel Devon Hart was originally charged with accessory after the fact.

Hart was sentenced to 6-17 months in prison, but did receive credit for the 1038 days he spent in jail awaiting trial, according to Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook.

Marcus Kauffman's family and Maryann supported the disposition in this case, as well as in Michael Teasley's case, according to Cook.

Cook pointed out that there was no evidence that Tramel Hart was at the scene of the breaking and entering into the residence or involved in the shooting of Marcus Kauffman.  Nor was there any evidence that he drove anyone to or from the scene of the crime.

The evidence showed that Tramel Hart's involvement was limited to driving Khari McClelland around well after the crimes had been committed against Mr. Kauffman to assist him with selling Mr. Kauffman's laptop, Cook said.

Last month, suspect Michael Dwayne Teasley, 28, pleaded guilty to possession of stolen goods and was sentenced to six to 17 months in prison. Teasley had been charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder.

Teasley was given credit for the 817 days he has served in the Rowan County Detention Center awaiting trial. Teasley was released on bond in 2016.

Khari McClelland, who was facing the death penalty, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in 2016.

Investigators have said McClelland and Jaylend Turner stole Kauffman's gun and laptop as well as other items. The laptop was tracked to a Statesville home where investigators spoke with Teasley, who told them he bought the laptop from a man for $200.

Jaylend Turner is still in the Rowan County jail under a bond of $3,000,000.  Turner was charged with attempted murder, first degree murder, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny, and larceny of a firearm.

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